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Blurred photo of dancers in a back-lit studio

Springboard Fellowship

Introducing a new Fellowship designed to provide equitable support to BIPOC artists.

Image of Daina Ashbee, by Patrice Mathieu
photo by Patrice Mathieu

DAINA ASHBEE
SPRINGBOARD FELLOW 2022

Artist, performer and choreographer based in Canada, known for her radical works at the edge of dance and performance. At the young age of 26, she had already won two awards for her choreographies. She was a double prizewinner at the Prix de la danse de Montréal, winning both the Prix du CALQ for Best Choreography of 2015-2016 for her choreographic installation When the Ice Melts, Will We Drink the Water?, and the Prix Découverte de la danse, presented by Agora de la danse and Tangente, for Unrelated (her first choreography). Also Daina was named by the prestigious German TANZ magazine as one of 30 promising artists for the year 2017 and named one of 25 to watch by the American publication, DANCE in 2018. In 2019, she won a New York Dance and Performance Award, Bessie, for Outstanding Choreographer.

Recognized as one of the most promising young choreographers of the next generation, since 2015 her work has been presented over one-hundred times in 15 countries and over 31 different cities. Her work being presented in some of the most prestigious festivals (The Venice Biennale, Oktoberdans, Les Rencontre Chorégraphiques de Seine Saint Denis, and the Munich Dance Biennale) and on the stages of the world (Canada, France, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Finland, Greenland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Mexico). 

Daina is the artist-in-residence at Agora de la danse in Montreal until 2023. In 2018 she returned to the Venice Biennale to teach at the Biennale College, whilst creating a group-piece for 15 students. She continued to tour in Norway, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic and Canada. In 2019 she toured Europe, Canada and the United States, meanwhile creating a new group piece (J’ai pleuré avec les chiens) and a solo (Laborious Song). In 2021 Daina looks forward to presenting 5 of her works at Montpellier Dance Festival, continuing to tour all of her works and finally premiering J’ai pleuré aves les chiens, her first original group piece.

dainaashbee.com

Image of Alanna Morris-Van Tassel, by Bobby Rogers
photo by Bobby Rogers

ALANNA MORRIS-VAN TASSEL
SPRINGBOARD FELLOW 2022

Dancer – Choreographer – Educator – Artist Organizer
Brooklyn native and Saint Paul-based artist excavating cultural retention and fragmentation within their Caribbean diasporic identity. Morris-Van Tassel was a performer with TU Dance from 2007-2017, featured in works by Kyle Abraham, Gioconda Barbuto, Camille A. Brown, Ronald K. Brown, Greggory Dolbashian, Katrin Hall, Francesca Harper, Dwight Rhoden, and Uri Sands. In 2020 she served as the company’s Artistic Associate and is a founding Teaching Artist at The School at TU Dance Center since 2011. In 2018 they were named Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch! and is currently an Artistic Advisor to Springboard Danse Montreal. Morris-Van Tassel was named Minneapolis City Pages’ Artist of the Year in 2019 and Best Choreographer for their solo, “Yam, Potatoe an Fish!” Alanna is the Artistic Director of AMVTP, founded in 2017 to produce dance, education and community-building initiatives. She is a 2015 McKnight Dance Fellow, a graduate of The Juilliard School and LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and Performing Arts. Morris-Van Tassel’s choreography has been commissioned by Minnesota Dance Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Children’s Theatre Co.; and the Dance Department at Carleton College. They are currently developing a collaborative solo performance art project, Black Light_mysteries and manifestations of the creative life force, which explores the nobility of black-ness, the divinity of the feminine energy, and the harnessing of the sensual expression. The first public presentation is March 12, 2021 virtually through The Cowles Center for Dance in Minneapolis alongside work by Penny Freeh. The full-evening premiere features performances by 10 celebrated Black dancers, poets, and musicians from the Twin Cities at The Great Northern Festival in January 2022. This Spring Morris-Van Tassel joins the faculty at Bard College as a Guest Teaching Artist through Gibney Dance. 

alannamvt.com

Alanna Morris-Van Tassel Productions
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Amidst the 2020 cancellations, we devoted our season to identifying critical areas within our infrastructure and practices where we could do more to serve Black, Indigenous, and people of color within our community and acknowledge the difficulties that disproportionately affect dance artists of the global majority whose identities have been marginalized. Invigorated by the feedback from our summer Alumni Town Hall and in conversations with our staff, advisors, and boards, we have been identifying more tangible ways to implement our guiding values, building additional short and long-term goals. Leading with integrity, creativity, equity, diversity, inclusion and mentorship, the BIPOC Fellowship Program is just one of the many steps ahead for us in moving contemporary dance forward.

Springboard’s new fellowship program is designed to provide support, residency, financial, marketing, and mentoring resources within our global network to BIPOC choreographers. Beginning in 2022, the program will support the artists’ practices as part of the Springboard Emerging Choreographers Program in Montréal and will strive to uplift the Fellow’s artistic endeavours throughout their Fellowship year and beyond. We look forward to curating to the desires of each Fellow, each year.

This initiative is supported in part by our new NYC dance community partner Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation and its Chez Bushwick program. Our new supportive partner is thrilled to pool, share, and distribute resources to address targeted inequities in the wider dance field.

A note about how we got here

Since our inception 20 years ago, we’ve grown from a three to a seven-person part-time grassroots team. 93% of Springboard’s revenue has always been earned through tuition and audition fees from our various programming, and the remaining 7% from individual donations. We have not yet received any support from public funding bodies in either the U.S. or Canada. Each year we strive to make our programs more affordable for dancers through scholarships: we have been proudly able to offer up to $45,000 annually in scholarships to our flagship summer festival since 2012. Last summer, we offered financial assistance to 28 dancers.

And yet, it is not enough to fulfill the many prongs of our mission across the organization.

One of the major takeaways from our summer 2020 Alumni Town Hall was noting the financial barrier to entry to simply audition and/or apply. While we offer significant aid to dancers registered for the project, it is ultimately inadequate if the aid doesn’t start at the door to the opportunity itself. This has manifested most significantly over time in the applications we’ve received for the Emerging Choreographers program.

That said, this is not the time to tighten our belts.

Our U.S. fundraising finishing out 2020 and carrying into 2021 has been exclusively targeted for resources and partnerships to elevate our two inaugural BIPOC Fellowship artists. We hope the annual curation of these extraordinary artists will deepen Springboard’s tangible commitments to the inequities in the field.

How are these artists curated?

Springboard’s family reaches far and wide. We reach out to our extended web of choreographers, performers, curators, company directors, company managers, nonprofit and foundation directors, mentors and talent agencies to understand whose trajectory may be most prepared for the next level of support within the wider ecosystem. We’re looking for career choreographers with 5+ years experience, outstanding talent, and those who would not otherwise be able to participate in our Emerging or Resident Choreographers Programs without support.

In harmony with Springboard’s guiding values of integrity, creativity, equity, diversity, inclusion and mentorship, Springboard believes that the contemporary dance community disproportionately favors the experiences, perspectives, and aesthetics of those from privileged backgrounds, leaving many stories untold and unwitnessed. We are committed to unravelling these many layers from our unique positionality in the field, both inside and outside the organization.